Mary Madison Chapman
Photo: James Ghostley collection
Mary Madison Chapman was a tenacious young lady who did what she believed in without being influenced by the opinions of others. She decided to go to medical school at a time when some called her a witch for seeking “a man’s occupation.” She didn’t care, she went right ahead and did it. When some thought women didn’t deserve to vote, she was part of a delegation of women who traveled to the State Capitol in a nationwide campaign for women’s suffrage. Then she helped found the League of Women Voters in Bemidji. She also fought for a woman’s right to respect.
She practiced medicine, delivered more than 2000 babies, and earned the same wage as the male doctor she replaced at the Sanatorium when women almost always made far less than men. She married twice, but kept her last name from her first marriage. She adopted two babies when she was nearly 50. When she realized her second marriage was not working out, she divorced and changed her daughter’s first and middle names and changed the last name of both of her children to Ghostley. She didn’t retire until she was 85.
Read Open Window to learn more about this feisty, beloved woman who was ahead of her time.